WASHINGTON — NASA’s chief expendable rocket buyer, William Wrobel, has been named director of the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore, NASA said in a Jan. 19 news release. He replaces John Campbell, who retired Dec. 31.

Wallops, which is managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., has long been home to NASA’s suborbital research programs, but in the coming years will increasingly host orbital launches. Wrobel, who currently serves as assistant associate administrator for launch services at NASA headquarters in Washington, will also head Goddard’s Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects Directorate, which oversees the agency’s sounding rockets and scientific balloon programs.

Wrobel will continue as NASA’s launch services chief, responsible for buying and certifying expendable rockets, and overseeing the agency’s Rocket Propulsion Test Program, “until several near term activities are completed and an effective transfer to an acting assistant associate administrator can be accomplished,” the news release said.

Wrobel is a former director of Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Taurus launch vehicle program. He joined NASA in 2006, before Orbital began work on its Taurus 2 rocket, a medium-class vehicle that will launch from Wallops to carry cargo to the international space station aboard the company’s Cygnus capsule. The Taurus 2’s debut mission is slated for March 2011.

“Bill is a natural fit as Wallops’ director,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden stated in the news release. “His background, experience and knowledge about NASA’s various suborbital and orbital programs will benefit the agency and our many research partners who count on Wallops for support.”